Report by Jody Robbins
Vacay.ca Family Columnist
When the hay starts flyin’ you know it’s time to gallop over to the Calgary Stampede. Here’s a look at what’s new and notable at the greatest outdoor show on earth for 2014.
Agrium Western Event Centre
One of the largest-ever projects in the Calgary Stampede’s 102-year history, Agrium Centre is the latest new build to grace Stampede Park. Canada’s only dedicated agriculture showcase space boasts a 2,500-seat livestock-ready arena and 20,000-square-foot multi-purpose exhibit hall. The ultra-modern centrepiece for western events, exhibitions and sustainable agriculture education helps the Stampede transition into a year-round gathering place.
Urban cowgirls (and boys) looking to lasso a new look have all the more reason to mosey over to CS Mercantile. Curated exclusively by Calgary fashion designer Paul Hardy, the range is an exquisite collection that includes bold western apparel and accessories for men, women and children; an inspired home style; a line of hospitality-inspired gifts; and delectable vintage-styled confectionary.
“I expect many of these pieces will be included into one’s wardrobe year-round,” says Hardy. “There is a deep appeal to those who embrace style regardless of age, regardless of where you work or play, regardless of where you live.”
During Stampede, guests can visit CS Mercantile at the Grandstand, the CS Mercantile General Store on the rodeo’s Midway, or the CS Mercantile Outpost at BMO.
Every year dozens of new foods hit the Midway and 2014 brings 32 new contestants to the ring. The bacon trend isn’t bucking and you’ll find bacon-wrapped corn, hot dogs, even bacon-wrapped pork belly — on a stick, no less! Adventurous eats include crocodile sliders and scorpion pizza (just think of all that protein!). Hungry heifers with ample room in their Wranglers can scarf back deep-fried cheezies, deep-fried donut bacon cheeseburgers, fried pickle pizza and turkey dinner poutine.
Jason Dziver/Bar C
Jason Dziver/Bar C
Signature Stampede Cocktail
Of utmost importance is whetting your whistle during the 10-day festival. Bar C, a stylish contemporary lounge within two-stepping distance of Stampede Park, has created the Cowboy’s Breakfast, a Stampede cocktail only available from July 3 to July 13, 2014.
Smooth and silky with hints of maple, bacon, smoke and bourbon, the boozy concoction will kick start any Stampede celebration. “The cocktail was inspired by the essentials for any good Stampede Breakfast — bacon, eggs, maple syrup and bourbon,” notes Andrea Espinoza, Bartender at Bar C. Made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cazadores Tequila, egg whites, bacon-infused maple syrup, cherry bark bitters, and liquid smoke, the cocktail is also garnished with candied bacon. Trust me, a couple of these and you’ll be do-see-do-ing all night long.
Play Me Some Mountain Music
Though Stampede isn’t marketed as a music festival, it certainly could be. The abundance of awesome bands is always impressive, particularly at Stampede Roundup. The popular outdoor music festival annually brings in big names and this year ain’t no exception with The Dudes, The Doobie Brothers and Bryan Adams rocking Fort Calgary on July 9.
Headlining the Coca-Cola Stage at Stampede Park are exclusive performances by Said the Whale and Tokyo Police Club. Matthew Good, Down With Webster and Billy Talent also join the line-up. Concerts on the Coca-Cola Stage are free with admission to Stampede Park.
The Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series sees Calgary-born Lindsay Ell opening for Paul Brandt July 11, Keith Urban July 12, Reba McEntire July 13, and Shania Twain July 9 and 10. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, via phone at 1-855-985-5000 (toll free) and at ticketmaster.com.
Extreme Sports at Stampede
New for 2014, Bell adrenaline ranch is where you’ll find edge-of-your-seat entertainment off the rodeo track. Showcasing gravity-defying stunts, extreme athletes and emerging sports in the heart of the Midway, the motorsports event include daily performances.
Enmax Coral Show
China’s most gifted tumblers, contortionists, jugglers and gymnasts dazzle audiences at the ENMAX Corral Show: The Peking Acrobats. It brings Chinese ancient folk art traditions and music to the stage with thrilling acts and displays of physical prowess. The show runs daily at Stampede Corral and is free with Stampede gate admission.
This year’s Stampede is July 4-13, 2014. For more information please visit calgarystampede.com.
[box_info]MORE ABOUT THE 102ND CALGARY STAMPEDE
Dates: July 4-13, 2014
2014 Parade Marshal: William Shatner
Tickets: Adult park admission is $16; children (7-12) pay $8; free admission for kids 6 years old and under.
Rodeo: Tickets to the rodeo range from $40-$267. Ticket prices include admission. Rodeo competition starts daily at 1:15 pm.
Concert Packages: Tickets to Shania Twain’s show and the Evening Grandstand Show start at $250. There are also packages for other artists. Visit the “Packages” webpage of the Stampede website for details.